Roughly 13 years ago, Stacey Frederick co-founded Shelf Energy LLC with the intention of creating an offshore E&P.
Plans change. Following the Deepwater Horizon oil spill in the Gulf of Mexico and the sudden interest by Louisiana E&Ps in unconventional plays, “we found South Louisiana to be very opportunistic,” said Frederick, who serves as the company’s land acquisitions manager.
For more than three decades, Frederick has been an oil and gas dealmaker.
Her start in the industry began during the mid1980s downturn, working in Lafayette, La., cranking out lease checks, purchasing prospect leases and researching mineral histories and curating titles. Within a couple of years, she was hired at Union Oil Company of California (UNOCAL), working in the lease administration department and then the onshore Louisiana land group as a staff landman.
Frederick grew up seeing the lucrative side of oil and gas, though her own experiences have seen the ups and downs of a cyclical business.
“My best friend’s parents owned oilfield service companies and offshore engineering consulting firms,” she said. “They went on winter vacations to Colorado and got new Cadillacs every year. It motivated me.”
A degree called Petroleum Land Management at what is now the University of Louisiana at Lafayette School of Business caught her attention.
“It was very interesting to me to think about working for a major oil company, working shoulder to shoulder with the geologists, geophysicists, engineers,” she said. “The business is very gamey, and I found the competition, whether it was purchasing a key lease or preparing to drill a well that may or may not produce—very fulfilling and exciting.”
For a road map to the A&D point person for oil companies, big private players and newer upstream companies check out Who’s Who in E&P A&D 2021.
Five years into the business, the industry went through another downcycle, but she survived a round of layoffs and earned her MBA at Louisiana State University.
She later joined Stone Energy Corp. as its outside-operated asset manager, where she worked on one of her favorite deals for the Amberjack (Mississippi Canyon 109) offshore block.
“When working with Stone Energy Corp., we always took the approach that ‘what is yours today will be ours tomorrow,’” she said. “We purchased a nonop Interest in a bp America-operated field. We generated a portfolio of drilling opportunities, submitting several to the operator under the JOA [ joint operating agreement] and eventually acquired operator interest and executing a drilling program.”
After yet another downturn, the financial crisis of 2008, Frederick was out of a job, which was “tough [but] I recognized it was a good thing, providing me with the opportunity to build our own company.”
In 2009, she joined Thomas E. Poche, a UNOCAL colleague, to form Shelf Energy.
Initially, the company took advantage of Louisiana’s severance tax holidays for re-entry wells, either drilling out plugs and returning wells to production or working over abandoned or orphan wells.
The company capitalized using joint venture-promoted well trades, direct participation investment model—“the old school approach”—and self-funding. Frederick’s core philosophy as she approaches deals is to check her instincts as she works through the process and asks the hard questions.
“Make sure you understand the variables and can live with the outcome, good and bad,” she said. “Luck should not be a factor. Once it’s yours, it’s yours.”
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